The Devil’s Advocate: How Cannvocate is changing the cannabis industry
D. Advocate and Associates has been helping to shape brands and transform ideas for much longer than legal marijuana has existed in Missouri. But for more than two years now, Douglas Hall and the cast of characters at Advocate have steadily helped to guide and produce some of the most successful events and relationships in Missouri’s marijuana industry.
This year the team pushed their behind-the-scenes work and efforts fully into the limelight, launching a cannabis-focused arm of Advocate, Cannvocate.
At its core, Cannvocate is a brand strategy and activation firm dedicated to connecting premium cannabis brands with patients and consumers. Where the company has been more successful than most is in achieving this is by meeting those targets where they already are. Rather than trying to drive targets and potential consumers to cannabis events, Cannvocate has brought cannabis brands to the consumer.
Greenway recently spoke to Hall about the launch of Cannvocate and how the company continues to evolve and thrive in a market that is often saturated with stigma and regulation.
“As an organization, our journey began with our client the Missouri Cannabis Trade Association (MoCannTrade) in February of 2020 as D. Advocate and Associates,” Hall explained. “After two years of working behind the scenes for the association, producing events, optimizing operational systems, digital engagement, etc., we launched the Cannvocate arm of the company. We did this intentionally to support what we saw as a huge need and serious gap in the Missouri medical marijuana space, measurable patient activation, scalable consumer engagement, and earned brand loyalty.”
Now Cannvocate is doing all that and more for cannabis businesses in Missouri’s legal market, the company has become the cannabis industry’s answer to a Swiss Army knife, a single answer to many of the issues legal marijuana businesses face currently.
“Cannabis as a plant, as a medicine, we all respect, appreciate and promote. Cannabis as an industry is an incredible space for the team to utilize our specific set of skills. Our services are built specifically for boom markets and helping companies find ways to get to a solution faster, more effectively and efficiently. But most of all, we love cannabis because of the people. The Missouri cannabis market has become near and dear to our hearts and its success is our mission.”
Cannvocate offers services as diverse as their team and the companies they work with. The company hosts a team of Cannavisors, brand ambassadors trained to engage and educate for dispensary and event pop-ups, and works with partners on everything from routing, scheduling, and order processing to sales strategy and implementation and business development . Cannvocate also offers partners the ability to have secret shoppers in their dispensaries, something unique in the cannabis market, but considered a neccessity in traditional retail spaces.
Additionally, Cannvocate also produces digital content, video, eLearning, messaging campaigns, and event collateral for its partners. “We are connecting influencers with our client brands and buying broadcast media,” Hall said.
“And we are producing and packaging our Cannavisor Village Pop-ups at roughly a dozen major public events throughout the year.”
“These services benefit our partners by giving them access to a single source solution provider for marketing, brand, and event services.”
The Cannavisor Village Pop-Ups have become something of a calling card for Cannvocate. In 2022 the company has put brands in front of thousands of potential patients and consumers, while simultaneously helping to destigmatize cannabis use by putting brands front and center at local events.
“Whether it’s a family-friendly event of 17,000 or a series of Pride activations at LGBTQ venues, our process is the same,” Hall told Greenway.
“We act as a liaison between the cannabis brand, the venue, and the communities they serve. We manage set-up, break-down, marketing assets, data capture, medical card education and patient activation. According to our post-event surveys, our NPS score for every event has landed between 90-100 from our cannabis partners. Collectively, their #1 goal has been to Grow Brand Awareness and over 80% exceeded that goal with our activations.”
The response to Cannvocate events has been overwhelmingly positive, from both inside and outside the industry, how are you choosing where to be and how to engage?
“Our selective nature allows us to connect the best brands with the best events. In September alone, Cannavisor Village will appear at five major events reaching a total attendee count of 300,000 ppl. But it’s not just about the size of the crowd. For each and every event we build a unique and interactive experience that ties to the theme and speaks to the demographic. We’re giving our clients the ability to access events at a low cost of entry and, at the same time, providing options that could put their brands on graffiti walls and hot air billons. Our collective experience in experiential brand activation, concert production, talent buying, media buying and licensing, as well as in markets such as tobacco, alcohol, and gaming, gives us an edge on knowing what opportunities will remain compliant yet drive a major impact. Not to mention, we make it fun.”
People seem to engage with Cannvocate and brand partners at a higher rate at these events than we’ve seen in other places, why is that?
“First and foremost, it’s our Cannavisors. Our Cannavisors are sourced for their compassion, their confidence, their enthusiasm, and their ability to listen. As the first touchpoint, they ensure that new visitors are informed and educated prior to an introduction to a brand. Having enthusiastic and engaging ambassadors in front of the village makes the journey to the brand table enjoyable, informative, and exciting. During this process they are also capturing important data to help inform and educate our brands on how their new patients are most likely to behave.
The second factor is how we design our pop-ups and events to ensure the highest possible traffic and quality engagement. Every event location is carefully vetted to maximize and optimize audience interaction and capture.”
What makes Cannvocate unique in this space?
“Our company was built as a growth firm with a focus on strategy and execution for brands and fast-growth companies. We are hyper-focused on finding the best and most efficient path to a solution that shows a true ROI. The turbulence and uncertainty of the market requires operators to make smarter decisions with where they spend their marketing dollars. We are here to drive results that drive revenue and allow for growth. However, what really makes us different is that we care. And that’s no bullshit, ask any of our partners or clients. We take our work seriously without taking ourselves seriously.”
How does your approach differ from other companies that offer similar services helping to promote and showcase brands?
“Our goal is to drive measurable results. That’s it. We maximize opportunities and minimize risk for our partners by being hypervigilant on connecting their brands to the right audience and driving them to the point-of-sale. Every event we produce, service we provide, and product we promote, is tied to an intentional customer workflow.”
“If we don’t believe we can drive results, we won’t do it. It’s that simple.”